Coach and player win gold

For Trevor Sprague and Brad Morrison, a Cariboo Cougars loss in Kelowna may have been the only negative on an otherwise positive weekend.

Celebrating a gold-medal triumph in Calgary on Sunday, it’s unlikely the hockey coach and player had that on their mind. Sprague and Morrison were members of Team BC at the Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup, their squad outscoring Alberta 9-3 in the tournament final.

Morrison, a 15-year-old forward and Cougars’ rookie, made the 20-player B.C. roster. Sprague, the Cariboo bench boss, was named an assistant coach for the provincial team.

Provincial representatives from Saskatchewan and Manitoba rounded out the four-team tournament, which ran from Thursday to Sunday. Saskatchewan downed Manitoba 2-1 in Sunday’s bronze medal game.

“It’s awesome,” Sprague says of being part of the Team BC staff. “Right from pre-skates to coaching the best athletes that we have for U16 in British Columbia was outstanding. Everybody said we were the favourites going in too.”

Morrison played a key role in Team BC’s decisive victory in the championship game, recording two goals and an assist.

“It’s going to be put some confidence on me too for sure, having won gold at this tournament,” says Morrison, who grew up in Prince George and Kelowna. “I think it should probably help me with my next Major Midget game coming up.”

Team BC was led offensively by 15-year-old North Vancouver product Jansen Harkins, who had a five-point game with four goals and an assist. Harkins and Morrison were selected by the Prince George Cougars in the first round of the 2012 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft. Harkins was taken second and Morrison seventh.

Top draft pick Matthew Barzal, another forward, collected one goal and three assists on Sunday. The Seattle Thunderbirds selected Barzal, a 15-year-old Coquitlam native, first overall in the 2012 bantam draft.

“(The Prince George Cougars) are going to be a dynasty team come here in the near future, with two great kids like Morrison and Harkins,” Sprague says. “It was outstanding being able to coach both of them.”

Team BC finished the competition 4-0 overall.

Cariboo Cougars

Sprague and Morrison returned home with a busy week ahead. They rejoined the Cariboo Cougars to prepare for a neutral-site doubleheader. They play the Thompson Blazers this Saturday and Sunday in McBride.

In their latest game, Sunday in Kelowna, the Cougars blanked the Okanagan Rockets 8-0. Second-year goalie Nathan Warren was in net for the goose egg, his second shutout of the season.

The Rockets outscored the Cariboo squad 5-1 on Saturday.

The Cougars are 11-3-0 on the season, good for second place in the BC Hockey Major Midget League. The Vancouver NW Giants (11-0-1), with one more point, lead the 11-team standings.


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